Sibling Bullying Can Cause Depression

I recently got a forwarded photo on one of the internet messaging services. For some people, it might not have raised any eyebrows. In my case, though, I found it very interesting.

It was an image of Luigi from the Super Mario Bros. video game that brought back memories from my childhood. You see, the caption on the image said it all…

IMG-20150815-WA0009

Looking back at it now with a big smile on my face, I know it was unfair. Yet, it was the position you had to take as the younger brother in order to get to enjoy the game. If you wanted to use the Mario character, then you would have had to play the game on your own.

Sibling Dynamics

If you are an only child, you definitely missed out on your first orientation on small group relationships and behaviour. Those who come from large families understand the intricacies of navigating and jostling for attention and perceived rights within a small – and other times chaotic – environment.

There are a lot of considerations to be made depending on:

  • birth order in the family
  • birth spacing years between the kids
  • the size of the family
  • gender mix amongst the kids
  • and any form of competition amongst the children.

It is all very interesting at the end of it all. Parental control and sibling dynamics determine how you turn out later in life. And therein lies the problem…

Sibling Bullying

Family members are highly likely to tease each other on the decisions one makes. It is an enduring part of family life. However, there is an extreme form of sibling behaviour that destroys the bonds inherent in family life: bullying.

sad, depressed, frustrated

Anyone who has been bullied in school or in their neighbourhood will tell you it is a very unpleasant experience. Now imagine what the reaction is like when bullying occurs within a home; a place where you are supposed to be safe among your loved ones. How is that going to feel like?

The StopBullying website defines bullying as an “unwanted, aggressive behaviour among school aged children that involves a real or perceived power imbalance.” It adds that the “behavior is repeated, or has the potential to be repeated, over time.”

Sibling bullying can take several forms:

  • Verbal and emotional abuse
  • Negative labelling
  • Physical aggression and threats of violence
  • Provoking arguments and manipulating family members through lies and playing the victim.
  • Ganging up on one sibling all the time.
Link to Depression

A study conducted in September last year by researchers from the University of Oxford showed that any child who was bullied by their siblings was twice as likely to become depressed as an adult.

The study, which was conducted together with other universities including Warwick, Bristol, and the University College London, also showed that most of the victims of bullying even confessed to having engaged in self-harm practices.

According to the Pediatrics Journal where the study was published, the lead researcher, Dr. Lucy Bowes said, “If [bullying] occurred in a school setting there would be repercussions. We are not talking about the sort of teasing that often goes on within families, but incidents that occur several times a week, in which victims are ignored by their brothers or sisters, or are subjected to verbal or physical violence.”

Growing Up in Love

The result of this study shows parents something they would not expect to see from their own families. Every parent believes they have done their very best for their children. Therefore, to hear that one of your children was diagnosed as ‘clinically depressed’ (because you neglected to address some issues you noted as your kids were growing up) is truly sad.

Siblings must be watched carefully so that any rivalries, jealousy, and feelings of neglect are not expressed in form of bullying. Try to do the following things:

  • Always defuse any situations that may lead to bullying
  • Ensure you never take sides in any conflict.
  • Help the siblings understand how their behaviour is affecting their relationships.
  • Stamp out any petulant behaviour and tantrums (especially in the older children). Some children may damage another sibling’s items out of spite.
  • Be an example of the proper way to love one another. How you interact with your own siblings can teach your children how they should behave.

Thinking back to your childhood memories, you can probably spot instances of bullying that you were not aware of. At least now, you have the knowledge and the experience and you can help chart a new course for the future of how your children relate to one another.

In my view, this new way of nipping sibling bullying before it becomes an issue will most likely reduce instances of depression among young adults in the future.

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When You Feel All Alone

You have no one to talk to. Even when you are in a room full of people, you can’t seem to fit in. You are isolated. You are invisible. There is no one you can trust anymore; everyone you know is unreliable. You have so much you want to share; so much you want to say. But, you know deep down that no one will understand.

Everything that was once good in your life is now bad. Your relationships are broken. All the people you depended on have turned their back on you. No one wants to support your goals. They all think you are a fool. They sneer at you; waiting for you to fail so that they can gloat that they had warned you but you didn’t listen. You keep trying to prove yourself but, no matter what you do, it’s always one step forward and two steps back. You have failed at everything but there is no one to pick you up except yourself. But how can you raise your spirits when you no longer believe in yourself?

Alone

It’s a hard truth to take; but let’s face it: You are all alone!

The Pain of Feeling All Alone

There is a saying (I’m paraphrasing) that says, “We can’t live alone because we are all connected by invisible threads”. Akin to the overused “No man is an island” quote, this saying goes to show that we are not meant to exist in solitude. Humans are social creatures. We crave interaction with others. That’s how some people get lonely. You find yourself in a room full of people who you don’t have a connection with and, therefore, you feel isolated. You might even feel sorry for yourself and start thinking that there is something wrong with you.

Being lonely, though, is different from feeling alone. That feeling of being alone goes a little bit deeper into the core of our being. When your emotional standing and your mind are overwhelmed by sadness and hopelessness, then depression is at your door.

Loneliness can be cured by establishing a worthwhile connection with someone. Feeling alone incorporates loneliness, sadness, hopelessness, anger directed at yourself and at the world, and the pain of failure. What is it about you that makes you so unlovable? Why won’t people listen to you? Why doesn’t anyone understand you? Does anyone even care about you?

Enemy at the Gate

There is a reason why people go mad when they are cut off from the world. Anyone who has been shipwrecked or survived a plane crash in some jungle somewhere has started experiencing hallucinations as they desperately call out for a much-needed companion. Even children are known to exhibit this desire for connection by having ‘imaginary friends’. Having ‘a friend’ they can trust serves as a coping mechanism to what life brings their way.

For adults, it is important to have someone you can share ideas with; someone who you can turn to when you are stressed or going through trying situations in your life; or someone to just share a laugh with. It is a social phenomenon that psychologists continue studying. Even in the Christian Bible, there is the instance whereby Adam in the Creation Story found himself feeling lonely and God provided a companion for him. We all need someone.

That is not to say we are not self-sufficient. That’s also not to say that we can’t deliberately isolate ourselves for the purpose of meditation or rebooting our systems. Feeling all alone is a desperate situation for anyone to go through.

What to do When You Feel All Alone

Unfortunately, there isn’t a ‘one-size fits all’ solution. Humans are complex creatures having different experiences in the world. Nevertheless, you bear the great responsibility of getting out of the rut. You need to analyze your choices, your circumstances and your thoughts to determine where you have gone wrong. You need to see everything with new eyes.

  1. Fight Depression

If you are lucky to spot the symptoms of sinking into depression, it is important to get yourself out of it before it takes hold over your life. Depression is a different beast to deal with and it has feeling alone as one of its symptoms. You can read some articles about depression here and here.

  1. Do away with toxic relationships

If you don’t feel you can trust the people in your life, go ahead and make new friends and connections. We make the mistake of holding on to people and relationships that do more harm than good. Why would you want to keep around someone who makes you feel insignificant? Why would you let someone break you down everyday telling you how worthless you are?

  1. Seek out positive people

Realize how valuable you are and seek out people who see your value and encourage you to be better. If someone really loves and cares about you, they will do everything to be in your life and to contribute positively to it.

  1. Communicate your feelings and move on

This is difficult to do. One of the reasons you feel alone is because you think no one ever listens to you. Give people a chance and find a way to get them to sit down and hear you out without commenting. Share your feelings to them and how their actions have affected you. The people who care about you will acknowledge their mistakes. Some might even be shocked that this is how you’ve been feeling and they didn’t know they were hurting you. Take note of those who dismiss what you have shared with them and cull them from your life. You don’t need them.

  1. Have a plan and purpose for your life

Many of the mental, emotional and physical problems we encounter in our lives can all be tied back to our life plans and life purpose. You are where you are because of the choices you have made and the circumstances that surround your life. Once you take responsibility for where you are in life, you can plan out what you need to do to improve your life. Having a purpose will guide that plan and it will serve as a plane of reference every time you start feeling lost.

In life, there will always be moments when circumstances batter you and you find yourself fighting fire on your own. Years of experience teach us that only true friends will stick around when your world is in turmoil. These are the people you need to find and have in your life.

I have always said this and I ask you yet again to be there for others. Everyone is going through a battle in life and it takes just a moment of your time to change their lives. Today, decide to be there for someone. You might think you have nothing to offer because you are also going through some things in your life. But what you give in life always comes back to you tenfold. Share the love and be there for someone and tomorrow you will not need to look far for a friend.

When the Pressures of Life Weigh You Down

Life is brutal. There is of course the “You get what you expect in life” aphorism or the one about how “You can see your life through different lenses; either a positive outlook or a negative one, and in each case you will be right”. None of that changes the fact that life is brutal. It is impersonal. It does not care about your status in society. Neither does it matter whether you are the kindest soul or the vilest person on the planet. It will dish out its brutality in unequal measure. At least that’s how it seems.Pressures of life

You have bills to pay. The kids haven’t had a decent meal in a while. Your landlord wants to evict you. You’ve just been laid off. Your department is no longer needed and therefore they won’t require your services anymore. You’ve just found out your spouse has been cheating on you with your best friend. The doctor has just announced that your only child has a terminal illness. A reckless driver just totalled your car and now you are paralysed from the waist down. That vacation of a lifetime took you to an area where you contracted a flesh-eating bug. That pimple on your face is actually a cancerous tumour. It’s brutality everywhere. That is life.

It all sounds bleak. Perhaps it is true when they say you should focus on the positive things that life has to offer. As one song says, “Count your blessings name them one by one”. Apparently, when you count your blessings, your outlook changes and you realize that things are not as bad as they appear. Is that supposed to be comforting? How will you solve your current problems? Who will help you when everyone around you is going through their own personal hell? Why do bad things happen to good people?

That is the nature of life. Sometimes the pressures of life can weigh you down and there doesn’t seem to be any respite in the near future. Your friends have turned their back on you and your family doesn’t seem to love you anymore. You are all alone. You are broke and all your creditors want a piece from you. There is no light at the end of the tunnel. People say you are useless; foolish even. The world would be better off without you.

Surely, what’s the point of living? Might as well escape the brutality, right?

New Eyes

If you’ve read the book Man’s Search for Meaning by Dr. Viktor Frankl (if not, I would definitely recommend it), you realize that life will do with you as it pleases. It will tear you down to your bare bones till all you can see is the real you. You will question your purpose on this earth when all the pressures of life weigh you down. You are here for a reason but what is it? Were you just put here to suffer?

Most of the kindest people on earth are those who have suffered deeply in their hearts and minds. The only thing that separates those who make it through this life is willpower. Yes, you are suffering. But you are not the only one. You are not alone. There are many other people going through the same struggle. There are millions more whose struggles you would not wish to bear. We are bound to one another through our lives; through our shared pain. We are all in this together.

That’s why you are always urged to smile at people and be kind whenever possible “because you do not know what struggles they may be going through”. It is just a small way of saying, “Despite the pain you are feeling, I appreciate that we are in this together”. It’s a shared kinship.

Life is not that bleak. It is true you need to teach yourself to look at life with new eyes. There is so much beauty around us that goes unnoticed. When is the last time you took a second to stare at the moon? When is the last time you closed your umbrella and just raised your head to the sky and embraced the rain? When’s the last time you tried to share a joke with the quiet person in the room? When is the last time you just smiled at a random stranger as you passed and they smiled back at you?

Like in other things in life, it is the little things that matter. How did you make a million? I just decided to change my product from green to blue. How did you win that football match? I just tweaked the tactics a little and we took control of the game. What do you love about her? There’s this little noise she makes when she laughs. What do you like about him? There’s this little look he gets when he sees me.

It’s the little things that matter!

Look around you and find whatever it is that makes you happy; even for a moment. The pain will always be there but that doesn’t mean it shouldn’t be interspersed with moments of sheer joy. Perhaps it’s even a good idea to start living your bucket list right now. There are so many people who are trying to complete their bucket lists quickly because they’ve been told they have a terminal disease.

Maybe taking the attitude that we don’t have long to live can spur us to great heights. We can love deeply; live without fear; speak kind words to one another; share our meals with those who don’t have the means; give a stranger our parking space; be patient with one another; appreciate our earthly possessions more; go to all our kids’ ballgames; sing passionately; and even sleep peacefully. Life would be an expression of love.

Life brings suffering but Love is effusive. Friedrich Nietzsche once said, “To live is to suffer; to survive is to find some form of meaning in the suffering”. We can choose to see the world with new eyes. We can accept the reality of the world and still do the things that will bring joy to our lives. We can love our lives in spite of the inherent flaws. Only then can we connect with others in the eternal bond that binds us together: Life.

Dying to Live

I know this is something that can resonate with many people. It is a song by Edgar Winter but the words seem to transcend time. It talks about the contrasts between the struggle to live and the struggle with death. I feel it captures some of the thoughts that people have when they are depressed. Why fight to live when it is easier to die? That is the question. The answer can only be found within yourself. There is something inside you that wants you to succeed. Something that wants you to live.

Here are the lyrics.

You know I’ve heard it said there’s beauty in distortion
By some people who’ve withdrawn to find their heads
Now they say that there is humor in misfortune
You know I wonder if they’ll laugh when I am dead

Why am I fighting to live if I ‘m just living to fight?
Why am I trying to see when there ain’t nothing in sight?
Why am I trying to give when no one gives me a try?
Why am I dying to live if I’m just living to die?

Hey, you know some people say that values are subjective,
But they’re just speaking words that someone else has said.
And so they live and fight and kill with no objective
Sometimes it’s hard to tell the living from the dead

Why am I fighting to live if I ‘m just living to fight?
Why am I trying to see when there ain’t nothing in sight?
Why am I trying to give when no one gives me a try?
Why am I dying to live if I’m just living to die?

Yeah, you know I used to weave my words into confusion
And so I hope you’ll understand me when I ‘m through
You know I used to live my life as an illusion,
But reality will make my dreams come true

So I’ll keep fighting to live till there’s no reason to fight
And I’ll keep trying to see until the end is in sight
You know I’m trying to give so someone give me a try
You know I’m dying to live until I’m ready
’til I’m ready
’til I’m ready
’til I’m ready to die

How does this make you feel?

Hello!

There are some days you come across something nice yet different. Something that fosters feelings of sadness yet elicits moments of joy. I came across something like that recently. I wasn’t sure what to feel.

All I know is that I liked it.

So I thought I would post it here. I felt it would mean something to you. It’s a poem written by Nicole H.

Poem by Nicole

The poem is called: Do Not Weep for Me

In my silence I’m withering,
Dying.
Reaching out as far as I can
Stretch,
Grasping to hold on to what’s
Left,
But I find there is nothing
There,
No happiness to nourish my
Heart,
No love to quench my
Thirst.
It is time for me to let
Go.
Perhaps, I think, maybe, just
Maybe…
Maybe I have made an
Impression,
That I’ve left something behind for
Someone
A glimpse of hope, a vision of
Beauty,
A memory that may never
Fade.
Do not weep for me, do not
Mourn,
For my time with you is
Up.
Continue on, live your
Life,
Move ahead and don’t look
Back,
Inside your soul carry a piece of
Me.
The winter is harsh, brutally
Cold
Be strong my dear, you’ll make it
Through.
Listen to me, heed my
Words,
And remember, I’ll always love
You.

So tell me, how does this make you feel?

Note: Thanks Nicole for letting me use this poem.